Profiles: the New Resume?

I’ve been raving for a good while now about the fact that the resume is doomed.

Lets take a quick look at the facts:

  • Resumes are highly subjective, and there is a lack of standardization for the information they present
  • Resumes are loaded with embellishments and misinformation
  • Resumes are hard to deconstruct in a way that helps facilitate automated matching
  • Reviewing resumes causes a serious bottleneck in the hiring process that can tax the bandwidth of hiring personnel as applicant volume increases

Of course, resumes do serve an important function in that they provide hiring personnel with a concise package of valuable information. But the fact that they are a calling card that provides a high-level summary of an applicant’s qualifications means that they end up being used incorrectly. Using a resume as a top-of-the-funnel tool on which to base quick judgments about applicant suitability is a source of major error. The value of the resume lies more in its use as one of many sources of information to be reviewed as one deepens the dialogue with a candidate. For instance, a quick resume review is an excellent way to help one prepare for an interview with a candidate.

I am not alone in my opinions. Over the past decade, many of us have looked for tools that can solve some of the noted problems with resumes and thus serve as a viable replacement. There have been many attempts to provide such tools. At the heart of all these methods is some way to deconstruct the information presented on the resume into a set of searchable, matchable parameters. Some have used parsing technology in which information is evaluated using artificial intelligence. While resume deconstruction methods are a good start, they do not really support the replacement of the resume as a capabilities presentation. These methods are really just quick fixes to something that is fundamentally broken. Anyway, AI and parsing has really have failed to catch on in a way that suggests they represent the future.

A more promising approach to getting around the fundamental flaws of the resume is found in technology that involves a more “live” approach in which applicants are asked to manually enter information into fields that represent key types of information found on a resume (i.e., what skills do you have? How many years of experience do you have?). This essentially asks the candidate to parse apart their resume manually based on parameters that are deemed important by the employer. This type of exercise greatly facilitates the ability to match applicants to job openings in an automated way, effectively replacing the resume’s role as a screening tool. I really believe such methods have value, especially for those using job boards and career sites. These methods are still not a suitable replacement for the resume, as they don’t have the richness of information that a resume does.

So where does this leave us?

Enter web 2.0. The rules are changing again. I had a really great talk a few weeks ago with a friend who works for KODA, an interesting new online job seeker community that really captures the spirit of where we are going. We talked a lot about what her company is doing to build a community in which relevant information flows freely between members and potential employers. She educated me about some of the more subtle ways that new broad-based Internet technologies are changing the way people use the web to find and apply for jobs. I combine this discussion with what I am seeing from other new and interesting companies such as Brazen Careerist, a company based on the idea that social networking can change the way people demonstrate their ability to perform jobs, essentially allowing them to provide factually based capabilities presentations. It is clear to me that deep-seated change is on the horizon.

I am convinced that dynamic, interactive on-line profiles are the replacement for the resume. I bet every single person reading this article has a LinkedIn profile and most probably have a Facebook profile too. Let’s take a LinkedIn profile. It has everything a resume has, and more, including a summary of career history with detailed information about accomplishments at each major node in one’s career, and a thorough overview of skills, experience, and capabilities. The online profile is also a nexus for a web of complex, interrelated information giving it some things that a resume does not and never will have, including:

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  • The ability to verify information presented via input from other community users. This includes reference checking and testimonials.
  • It’s dynamic, allowing the user to update info in real time and allowing for links to other relevant info housed in other places.
  • It’s community oriented and allows input and commentary by others whose opinion is relevant.
  • It’s flexible in that information can be extracted and tailored for specific purposes (i.e., presenting a skills profile or a summary of one’s work values).
  • It provides a much richer way to present accomplishments and relevant information (links to an online portfolio for instance).

So, the online profile provides a venue for all kinds of information that can serve to showcase things that are directly relevant for a given job. As a champion for the use of assessment and a futurist, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that I think online profiles also provide a great opportunity to integrate important information about an applicant into their profile. Adding assessment results to one’s profile provides an opportunity to help summarize and categorize one’s values, traits, skills and abilities, providing employers with even richer information about an applicant while also providing a way for applicants to learn more about themselves. Imagine the ability for others to comment on and verify assessment-related information or for employers to quickly access a baseline of standardized, trait-based information describing a job seeker, and you are glimpsing the future!

If one thinks about the key tennants of web 2.0 it is clear that technology has provided the foundation for the phenomenon of social networking. The interconnectivity and access to relevant information about any subject under the sun that is now at our fingertips represents a new way of doing things in almost all aspects of our lives. Technology has had a “push” effect such that people find new ways to use technology to create new products and ways of getting things done. Once these are “pushed out,” the ones with real value are adopted and quickly gain critical mass based almost entirely on their value proposition to users. Why should we believe that the world of hiring will go against this trend and ignore the value provided by new technology? Trust me: it won’t.

We have a long way to go; there are some limiting factors to consider including:

  • Reluctance to change.
  • Fighting to become the standard provider. This stuff will work best if one company or venue becomes the standard. This will be a challenge as players jockey for marketshare.
  • Job seekers are reluctant to pay extra. Many sites that offer upgraded profiles or extra information for a fee have not faired well. Any model in which the costs are not borne by the employer is doomed.
  • Technological limitations. For the profile to really work well we will need technology and products that don’t currently exist. For instance, this model really requires the ability to “scrub” profiles found all over the web and repackage information for specific purposes related to hiring

Social networking and dynamic user profiles are still in their infancy. It wasn’t that long ago that you probably faxed your resume to someone. Twenty years ago the world wide web as we know it didn’t even exist. So, if 20 years from now, profiles haven’t replaced the resume; I will gladly eat my hat!! How old fashioned of me.

Dr. Charles Handler is a thought leader, analyst, and practitioner in the talent assessment and human capital space. Throughout his career Dr. Handler has specialized in developing effective, legally defensible employee selection systems. 

Since 2001 Dr. Handler has served as the president and founder of Rocket-Hire, a vendor neutral consultancy dedicated to creating and driving innovation in talent assessment.  Dr. Handler has helped companies such as Intuit, Wells Fargo, KPMG, Scotia Bank, Hilton Worldwide, and Humana to design, implement, and measure impactful employee selection processes.

Through his prolific writing for media outlets such as, his work as a pre-hire assessment analyst for Bersin by Deloitte, and worldwide public speaking, Dr. Handler is a highly visible futurist and evangelist for the talent assessment space. Throughout his career, Dr. Handler has been on the forefront of innovation in the talent assessment space, applying his sound foundation in psychometrics to helping drive innovation in assessments through the use of gaming, social media, big data, and other advanced technologies.

Dr. Handler holds a M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Louisiana State University.







20 Comments on “Profiles: the New Resume?

  1. Well said!

    I agree that there is a need for some sort of standardized assessment tool, or a series of them specific to industry or skill sets. If employers had the ability to see what a potential employee can DO rather than what that person has DONE (i.e the resume) then we would be moving forward.

    What services are there for job seekers, active or passive, to build that assessment data into their online profile? What tools are available for employers to view the assessment data of a wide range of potential employees in their target space and where they can sort for the top 5%-10%?

    That would be a service desirable for both employers and employees… completing the online profile not just “virtualizing” the resume.


  2. I’m with ya on this. If someone can develop a useful (to employers and candidates), simple, fairly standardized 2.0 resume site it could change the game.

    Unfortunately Unvarnished may be the closest we come in the near future. But the lack of control over comments limits its usefulness.

    FYI, Koda website is

  3. Well written article. A couple of points to make is that most resumes have email and phone numbers. Corporate America is peeling off email contacts and leveraging recruitment marketing to promote their job listings. Broadbean, TMP, JWT and FirstAdvantage all offer these services via their job posting tools.

    With LinkedIn you do not get email addresses for free unless you pay LinkedIn. With tens of millions of resumes in Craigslist, Google resume groups and thousands of other sites it is a resume tsunamai.

    I agree with many of your points but it will take a while to ween Europe and America away from resume (CV). The trend you will see is using top of the funnel (profile & resume)matches that automatically drive them to an assessment. Now recruiters will be able to spend time on the “best of the best”.

  4. I am with you, I despise resumes but here is why I think they are a necessary evil and online profiles have the same if not more issues than resumes:

    -Yes, everyone who reads this article likely has a LinkedIn profile. That does not mean that everyone in our industry does or will. Or has one that is presentable

    -What about those who have little or no access to the Internet? Are they at a competitive disadvantage?

    -People can lie on profiles as much as they do with resumes

    -What happens if LinkedIn or Facebook are taken over by people who do evil things? What happens if they go out of business? Or there is a next big thing we flock to?

    -Not everyone wants to be online

    -Not everyone wants their work information for the world to see

    -What about those doing secret job searches?

    -Will the Recruiter/HR world be able to adapt? Surely it struggles with a somewhat standard document, what about a non standard format?

    I strongly support an alternative to the current system but until I see one that is fair to all and can be handled on the company side of things I am stuck supporting the status quo.

  5. The resume is dead, long live the resume.

    Your article is well done and thought provoking. I have some thoughts:

    a) The problem with inaccurate or simply fabricated information exists independent of the format, since the source of the error is the candidate and not the document or where the data lives or how it is viewed.

    b) Saying that online profiles have community-validating features is probably a rose-colored glasses view. People choose their friends and choose what feedback to display. I HEAVILY discount LinkedIn recommendations.

    c) Overall, I think you confuse the location of the resume with the resume. There will ALWAYS be a need for a career and talent synopsis. It may live in an online profile, or in a separate resume, which may be auto-created from the online profile. Paper resumes are dead, but is is difficult to understand how an online profile is handier than a Word resume.

    d) Scraping data from profiles still involves parsing, so online profiles do not solve that.

    e) To say that an interactive question/answer format to get profile/CV data is more accurate is simply not true in my experience. What such systems actually do is to provide a way for candidates to grossly exaggerate their skills and experience levels in ways that are less detectable than by reading their resume. For instance, in an interactive process, a candidate may say that they have 5 years of skill XYZ and are expert level in it. Without the context of the resume, where we can see and follow skills in context, it is impossible to make any estimate of the validity of such statements.

    This self-over-reporting syndrome is not a trivial problem. As users of DICE, we are continually frustrated by running searches for C#.NET gurus and finding that the overwhelming majority of “matches” are actually not C#.NET programmers but Java and PHP people who have simply reported (apparently falsely from what we can read in the resume) that they are experts in C#, when in fact they report no paid experience with such in their actual resume.

    f) To say that parsing and semantic matching have little uptake is an overstatement when you look at the fact that Monster and CareerBuilder are using both technologies very successfully. There must be a reason they are by far #1 and #2.

  6. Great comments all. Thanks for the dialogue. I definitely meant my article to stimulate discussion and thought about the resume and its role vs. that of the profile. I agree that profiles can be falsified too and that in their present form, they may not be THE answer. I think that the crux of the issue is that THE answer has been hard to come by and that is why there has not been a replacement yet. What I do feel to be true is that technology will continue to evolve to a point where we really do leave the resume as we know it now behind in exchange for some new methods that will do a better job of accomplishing the mission of quickly evaluating applicants vs. requirements.

    I cant wait to see what the future holds and I believe that profiles, in one format or another, will definitely be a huge part of the solution.

  7. BTW, to clarify, by revenues CareerBuilder is the largest in the US, and Monster is the largest internationally. So I am taking no position on which to rank #1 and which to rank #2.

  8. Charles – you have struck a chord – one that my guess the majority of people reading will absolutely agree with (no offense Robert). I too for years have railed about the evils of the resume and plotted its demise (check it out:

    There is little question that with almost a billion people with profile data on the ten biggest social web platforms, that if a recruiter is using a resume to decide whether to bring someone in – they’re doing themselves and their company a disservice (should I say laziness?). The amount of information that is available in the Social Web for the far majority of candidates is breathtaking.

    I have no question whatsoever that the resume will go the way of the TV antenna, VCR or the Sunday Newspaper Help Wanted section – its happening already… Anyone lamenting the accuracy or legitimacy of any online data is not using it for the better. As a test, try using Linked In, Facebook or Clean Journey profiles as a guide to attract your interest in a candidate (seem familiar to you “stuck on resume” folks). Then merely Google the people you’re interested in and read their blog or Twitter postings, review a portfolio, read a forum response from their Assn., discover actual club activities, watch a video they made, read an answer to an ERE posting – or whatever…all of which provide a dynamic, well rounded, snap shot of each – something no resume was ever designed to be able to provide…(how could it – it was invented almost 100 years ago with virtually no changes since!!!)

    To Geoff and Bryan’s point, if you can find a service where there is Interactive candidate and company data with functional assessments, twitter feeds, digital conversations between employers and passive job seekers that gets shared back and forth – NOW THAT would be game changing…(Unvarnished may be cool – but they are leaving the employer out of the game).

    What we all need I think is a service that promotes all of this in the form of a company dedicated Talent Community that links interested people with those at the company to each tell their stories…and vice versa!

    I happen to know of just such a place… (Google my name to find out -:)

  9. Ah but see here’s the draw for Unvarnished (and it’s the same for Facebook)–there’s a strong curiosity driving people there. They want to know what people are up to (Facebook), or what people think about them (Unvarnished) or what they’re up to (Facebook). It’s social outside of the job seeking experience. Something like Jobfox or similar employee-employer matching service is specifically for the job seeker and without achieving critical mass (as Charles points out), it will never be THE place for a true 2.0 resume.

  10. Fantastic article Charles, and thanks for the KODA shout-out! It was really fun to brainstorm with you about new ways for information to flow between candidates and employers. What I’m most interested in is: how can online profiles help people to “show,” and not “tell,” employers about their unique value, without the content getting too anecdote-heavy, long, and cumbersome to sift through…? I’m interested in developing a model that strikes this balance.

  11. The main purpose of resume is NOT to give comprehensive information about candidate. The purpose of resume is to make a quick and approximate decision about match with job opening.
    From that perspective resume is a very convenient tool: it’s quick to publish (cut & paste), quick to send to recruiters (cut & paste again), resume is very search-friendly (full of keywords) and provides a very good starting point for further research of how suitable candidate is for the job.
    I believe resumes are here to stay.

  12. No matter what you call it; resume, profile, Q/A forms or whatever there will alwyas be a need for INFORMATION about potential candidates. So the true question is how to deal with the information, not what format it comes to you, and what you DO with it once you have it in your hands. Computers don’t hire people – people hire people. All the best technology in the world does not replace us actually speaking with other people, one-on-one, to get information we need to hire the best to drive performance and growth.

    Issues I see:

    A) The overwhelming majority of professionals don’t have profiles, don’t want them and don’t have the time or inclination to put them “out there”.
    B) Resumes and on-line profiles are still “fabricated” by the individual and are not always factual.
    C) The “best” potential candidates don’t have a resume or profile out there but must be sought out and enticed.
    D) An outstanding resume or profile does not always equal a good employee.

    So the resume, or any other form of information about a candidate, will never go away as we all need some type of information in order to make any decisions. Computers can parse it, break it into tiny pieces, use artificial intelligence to sort it, group it or compile it but it can’t make hiring decisions.

    New technology, whatever it is, I hope will not ever replace human interaction in the hiring process.

  13. KC I agree that smart and better hires are made by leveraging all of the resources that you listed. What you have to wrestle with is the following:
    1.) Changing behavior
    2.) Conforming to the existing hiring process (corporate mandated compliance, workflow, assessments, reference check, background check…)
    3.) Does the process scale for companies that are Global, hire from many locations and have many people involved in hiring process.
    4.)Combined with a combination of lazy recruiters and many recruiters that have too large of workload. Do you agree that many companies would frown and be upset if they saw their HR people using Facebook or Twitter as hiring information points.
    I totally agree that the resume is a component of hiring and becoming less the focal point. However in many companies if you told the hiring manager to check out their Facebook, Twitter and blog they would potentially push back on value or process or look at it as an invasion of the candidates privacy (even though it is “public”)
    So to Katie’s question which is brilliant is “How do we find the balance?”
    My question to the recruiter world is when they are scheduling an interview is the first step in process be it good or bad; “Let’s discuss or review your resume?”

  14. I totally agree about not replacing the human element when it comes to hiring. BUT how many humans does it take to screen 1,000 resumes and what is the resulting consistency and objectivity of their efforts?

    Assessments, interviews, etc are all pieces of information that are useful for helping experts make informed decisions. They are tools for helping to screen in candidates who appear to have the best match to the job’s requirements.

    Resumes and screening tools serve to help screen out those that do not have basic qualifications and as such are more amenable to automation. Such automation is not necessarily important in every scenario (i.e., few applicants for an opening) but can have tremendous value in others (i.e., high volume hiring).

    I should have qualified my statement a bit in the article. However, this does not change the fact that the basic info now found on resumes will eventually be presented in a different way. Perhaps a rose by any other name….

  15. Charles – I’d like to hear more thoughts from you on incorporating assessment results in an online profile. I can see a whole host of reasons why this would not work, but maybe I’m being overly pessimistic about it.

    Robert – according to a recent survey commissioned by Microsoft, companies are actually requiring their recruiters to research their candidates on FB, etc. You can download a pdf of the survey report at the link below. I also recently blogged about this at the Workforce Institute website.

  16. Hmmm. As a lazy recruiter, I want my information neat, tidy, meaningful, and in one place. I’m waiting for the “Digital Dossier”:
    essentially it combines this: (a cleaned-up Google search) with a future version of this:
    (I say future version because some of this info on me is wrong) plus some datamining intelligence, to tell you all about me, and what others think of me, and what I think about what others think of me, etc….

    There will always be a number of people who won’t have web presences, but that number will tend to diminish over time and then hit a plateau. I can easily imagine a time when employers will say something like:
    “Individuals with Public Digital Dossiers of under 20kbyte are normally ineligible for employment. We thank you for your interest in….”
    If anybody here is old enough to remember “*Max Headroom” from 1987-88, then they may recall that people who had wiped away their public identities were called “blanks,” and were implicitly considered criminals. (This was calculated to be around 2004-2005). Well, we’re not there yet….


    Keith “C-c-c-c-atch the Wave” Halperin


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